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The Nature of Great Stewardship

Prove Faithful 1 Cor 4:2

I used to be motivated to retire young and wealthy and spend the rest of my life doing whatever would make me the happiest. I was focused on managing my money, my way.

However, my perspective about money has changed. I’ve learned about financial stewardship, generosity and God’s purpose for money. God showed me what it meant to manage His money, His way.

My thoughts on retirement began to change too. For the first time I understood the real meaning of financial freedom. Save and invest so that I can retire and be free to give more of my time and resources.

God’s Plan for Money versus the World’s Plan for Money

God’s financial plan is more about our hearts than our wallets. It’s about stewardship and generosity. God’s purpose for money isn’t for us to be financially free to satisfy our wants and desires. It’s to use money for generosity and His purposes.

This is in direct opposition to most of the media about money and personal finance we find online today, in bookstores or on TV. Most of the advice stems around tips and ideas to become financially free for our own benefit and purposes.

Not that finding new ways to save or make extra money, using personal finance software or getting the best online savings rates aren’t important.  They are certainly part of making wise financial decisions.

However, God’s plan for money starts with the heart, not implementing the next trending tip to improve our financial future. Again, there is a place for tools and tips but they are certainly not the starting point, the foundation or nature of stewardship.

Knowing and living out a biblical perspective on money leads to better spending decisions, greater generosity and saving more because we want to do it to serve God with our time and resources.

A Steward’s Call to Action

In 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV), we are called to Prove faithful with the trust we have been given.

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

This is an important call to action for me and a reminder that my job is to again manage God’s money, God’s way.

“Prove faithful” is actionable. It’s inspiring and it’s something we as financial stewards should strive to do in the management of our money, career, business and resources, again, for God’s purposes.

God has big plans for us and we can be a part of those plans if we are faithful. Doing so will provide us the opportunity to be more generous with our time and resources and achieve the true financial freedom that comes with managing money God’s way.

My commitment to this blog remains to provide inspiration and encouragement for financial stewardship and to help people “prove faithful” in their role as God’s stewards.

What do you think about 1 Corinthians 4:2 and this important call to action for God’s people?

Photo credit:  Knockout_Photographs

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God Always Keeps His Promises (Compass – Finances God’s Way)

“Our role is to handle whatever He’s entrusted to us His way as revealed in the Bible. When we don’t there are consequences.”

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Bible Verses About Worry: How To Cast Your Cares On Him In The Midst Of Trouble (Bible Money Matters)

“Jesus talked about worry and anxiety more than a few times, and he reminds us of how much God loves us, and how He can give us rest.”

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4 Ways to Avoid Worrying About Money

Financial Worry and Fear

Have you ever worried over your finances?  Some people experience these emotions when it comes to paying bills. Some experience them when thinking about savings, retirement, or longer term plans.  Fear, worry, or any negative emotion, can result in behavior that isn’t good for our finances or our relationship with the Lord.

Financial behaviors as the result of fear and worry

Sometimes it’s difficult to know when these emotions are controlling our financial behavior.  They can creep in and become the basis of all our thoughts and decisions about money.  Consider the following examples:

Hoarding

There are extreme cases of hoarding money.  I think we’re all susceptible to this behavior, especially for those of us who are natural savers.  Hoarding can be dangerous if we’re relying on our savings, or ourselves, versus faith in God as our provider.

Why hoard savings if you’re not worried about the future?

Lack of generosity

There are many excuses for not giving and putting God first in our finances.  Common excuses may include too much debt, not saving enough for retirement, monthly expenses are too high and so on.

Why avoid giving if you’re not worried about the future?

Financial disagreements

Are you ever worried over not having enough money for the current month or even longer term, such as with retirement savings?  Many of us have been there.  Such stress can impact our relationships and result in short-tempers, arguments, and even divorce.

Why disagree over money matters if you’re not worried about the future?

The bottom line is that the emotions of fear and worry can result in not fully trusting the Lord with our finances. However, there is good news to consider.

Overcome financial worry and fear

God has a plan to provide for our needs and to take care of us.  We must remember that He is in control and the owner of all things.

With that, how do we overcome worrying about money matters?  Consider these 4 ideas:

1. Do not worry

First, God tell us not to worry, but to seek Him first.   Take a look at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:25 – 34.   We shouldn’t worry about tomorrow.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I find great comfort in this scripture.  We certainly have a responsibility to be faithful with God’s resources, but God promises to take care of us no matter what.

We need to remember that God’s plan is bigger than any financial issue or challenge we may be facing.  Life is full of valleys and it’s when we’re in the valleys we have an opportunity to strengthen our faith and honor God with our actions.

2. Recognize our part versus God’s part

I learned several years ago from a biblical financial study God’s responsibilities with financial matters versus our responsibilities.

God’s part is to be the owner of everything and provide for our needs (see Psalms 24:1).  Our part is to be faithful with what he provides (see 1 Cor 4:2).

In other words, we need to focus only on what we can manage or control and not be worried, or fearful, about what we can’t control today or in the future. That’s God’s job.

3. Focus on doing our part well

Even though we must trust God to do His part, it certainly doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility to do our part well and be faithful.  We have big responsibilities to live up to!  We’re required, as stewards, to work hard, give generously, avoid debt, save regularly, spend wisely and invest steadily.

4. Pray continually

Finally, prayer is an opportunity to turn to God and lay our worries at his feet and rest. Worry may be a feeling that we will likely have from time to time, but we can choose what to do with this emotion.  We can turn to God and lay it at His feet in trust and faith that He will continue to live up to His responsibilities and provide for our needs, and certainly, a solution to any financial problems.

Consider Philippians 4:19:

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

What do you think of these ideas to stop worry about money?

Photo credit: Bhernandez

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Is Poverty Next to Godliness? (Stewardship Central)

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, David and Solomon knew their wealth came from God and that helped them to use it wisely.

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Why Do Christians Give? Philanthropy Or Christianity? (Bible Money Matters)

What makes Christian giving different from any other giving?  It must point back to Christ.

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Compass Map

Download a copy from Compass – Finances God’s Way

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God Calls Us to Leave Our Comfort Zone (Stewardship.com)

Leaving our comfort zone isn’t easy, but God’s blessings pale in comparison to what we often want to hold onto.

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The Evidence of Stewardship (Video from Watermark Community Church)

“Stewardship needs some new PR. For many, the life of a faithful steward is one of constraining budgets, emergency fund goals and coupons. What if this is short-sited? What if the evidence of faithful stewardship is not seen in your spending plan, your emergency fund and the fact you buy generic brand tortilla chips? If this is not the best evidence of faithful stewardship, then what is the best evidence?”

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The Bible on Greed and the Endless Pursuit of Possessions

Greed

Society suggests money is the source of identity and purpose in life which leads to greed and material pursuits.  Such examples often include trying to get rich, chase after material items and even in jobs or position one pursues.

Of course, buying a car doesn’t necessarily mean you seek your identify in material possessions or are a greedy person, but it can for those who aren’t in – tune with God’s purpose for money.

Extreme material pursuits are often placed before God who provides our true source of identity.  I’m talking about a never ending cycle of spending thinking that owning possessions will result in a joyful life.  These pursuits quite simply take us off course of God’s plans for our lives.

Material or financial pursuits are worthless in the end.  We have to remember we can’t take money with us when we die.  Our job, cars, house, etc. will be meaningless when that day arrives.

I once heard a pastor share a story about his yearly Christmas visit to a local hospital to see people near death.  He said these people never talked about their cars, houses, jobs or other possessions.  They always talked about three things:  their faith, family and friends.

Yet we get caught up in the tiresome rat races of life when we often fail to see how God wants to use us and the resources He’s entrusted to our care.  Keeping up with the Joneses is such a race we can’t win.  Someone will always have what we perceive as a better job, a nicer car, house, etc.

Revolution 18:22-21 provides a sobering picture.  Here are a few of those verses:

14They will say, the fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.

19They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth!  In one hour she has been brought to ruin!

The NIV study Bible has this to say about these verses from Revolution:

“God’s people should not live for money, because money will be worthless in eternity.  And they should keep on guard constantly against greed, a sin that is always ready to take over their lives.”

Also, consider Luke 12:15:

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

These verses are clear in that seeking identify in things and in pursuing money and riches (greed) are worthless endeavors in God’s view.  They don’t last forever and while may bring short-term happiness for some, they will never result in true joy.

Sadly, many will spend all their time and resources on such endeavors.  Relationships will with loved ones will be squandered and most importantly, sacrifice their relationship with God along the way.  But again, we can’t hold any of these things in our hands on that final day of life on earth or carry them with us into eternity.

These verses are a great reminder to do our best, as God’s stewards, not to place money first in our lives.  Rather, money and the resources entrusted to us should be tools to fulfill God’s purposes.  God can certainly bless us with a lot to manage, but you can believe He will only do so for His purposes.

We must remember that as humans we are always vulnerable to selfish desires, greed and temptations in our society. Part of being a faithful steward is strengthening ourselves from such temptations by reading the Bible, praying and giving to establish God’s as the top priority in our wallets.

What are your thoughts about what the Bible says about greed and the pursuit of possessions?

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk